Wood burning stoves help to burn firewood more efficiently and can generate much more heat for a room compared to open fireplaces, which can be very inefficient at releasing heat.
Wood stoves are typically installed in one main room of a home and will be sized according to the amount of space it needs to heat.
However, many homeowners are looking for more cost effective ways to heat a whole home and high efficiency modern wood burning stoves may provide the answer.
So can a wood stove heat a whole house?
Wood stoves aren’t typically designed to heat an entire house but sized to warm a particular room in a home. However, installing a wood stove in the right location in a home, along with helping to circulate air between rooms, or using a stove boiler, can help to raise temperatures across a whole house.
There are a number of factors that will influence whether a wood stove can heat a whole house.
We’ve explained what these are in more detail below using our own wood stoves as examples as to whether we can heat our own homes with them.
Can A Wood Stove Heat An Entire House?
Modern wood stove are very good at being able to generate heat for a home.
Wood burning stoves are designed to be much more efficient than traditional open fireplaces. Our wood stoves have official efficiency ratings of between 70% and 80%, while open fireplaces can be as little as 10% efficient.
Wood stoves work by keeping waste gases from a fire inside the firebox for longer to help produce more heat, while ensuring that all of the air in and out of the stove can be adjusted to allow full control of a wood stove fire.
This makes wood stoves a popular choice for homes and can be placed in any location in a home that can support its installation, but are also commonly installed within existing open fireplaces.
When it comes to choosing a wood stove they’re typically sized for a particular room.
This is to help ensure that a stove isn’t underutilized or over fired, both of which can lead to inefficiently burning fires with less heat produced than designed.
We’ve explained in more detail whether a wood stove can be too big here, but in summary if a wood stove is too big for the area it needs to heat then it may be run at too low temperatures to counteract the heat output.
A low temperature and smoldering stove can lead to more creosote being produced.
On the other hand, if a wood stove is too small then a user may run it at high temperatures to try and get the most out of it.
A stove running too hot can be burning through firewood too fast to be efficient.
We have two stoves in the family that we had installed in our existing living room fireplaces.
Each stove was sized accordingly to the size of the room it needed to heat.
Being able to heat the rest of the house wasn’t considered in our particular situations.
If being able to heat the rest of our homes was considered as part of the process of choosing the right size of stoves then they may have been too big for the rooms and created uncomfortably high temperatures when run normally.
This doesn’t mean that a wood stove isn’t able to heat a whole home, but in our particular circumstances it wasn’t a viable option.
This is because:
- The stoves were installed within existing open fireplaces located on an external wall of a home. It would have been harder to transfer the heat from one side of the house to the other.
- Our homes aren’t open plan. The heat from our stoves would have to travel through a single doorway to reach the rest of the house.
- A large stove capable of heating the majority of the house would have created uncomfortably high temperatures within the room it was installed in.
How Do You Heat A House With A Wood Stove?
In order for a wood stove to be able to heat a home, both the location of the stove and how the heat will be transferred around a home must be considered.
Locating A Wood Stove In Your Home
In order to help heat a whole house with one wood burning stove, the stove should be:
- Located on the first floor (ground floor in the UK).
- Placed in a centralized area of a home where the heat can be conveyed between rooms.
- Placed in an existing open fireplace if not on an external wall, or can be installed on the floor of your home.
As heat rises, if you’re looking to help heat your whole house with a wood stove it should be installed on the first floor of your home.
A central area on the first floor of your home will work well, as the heat can make its way up any stairs to the second floor. This can work much better with more open plan homes.
Wood stoves are commonly installed in existing open fireplaces. If you have an existing fireplace and chimney in a central location in your home then it can be a great location to have a stove installed.
Our own open fireplace is located in the middle of our home and would be a great place for a stove.
Heat from the stove would be able to radiate out from the chimney breast and help warm most of the rooms in the house.
Transferring Heat From A Wood Stove Around A Home
The location of a stove in a home will help influence how well it can heat a home, but how well the heat is transferred around that home will also play an important role.
If you’re looking to be able to warm up as much of your home as possible with a wood stove then you can consider the following to help move the warm air:
- Floor vents
- Ceiling fans
- Floor fans
- Attaching a blower to the stove
Standalone fans separate from the stove can be used to help circulate the warm air generated by a stove around a home.
Ceiling fans can be used to force the heat down from the ceiling, while floor fans can be used to help spread the heat between rooms.
Floor vents can also be used to help hot air rise up to the second or third floors of a home.
Certain models of wood stove can also come with an integrated blower.
Although modern wood stoves can radiate heat out into a room very well, a blower can be used help move the heated air further away from the stove.
Blowers can also be installed onto stoves that don’t already have an existing one.
You can find the list of blowers available for wood stoves here.
Installing a Stove Boiler
Many models of wood stove can also come with an optional boiler than can be used to help heat a home.
A stove backboiler can be used to heat water for your central heating.
Although our particular stoves don’t have an integrated boiler (as we didn’t need one), one of our stoves could have come with a boiler as an optional extra. This 10,000BTu boiler can also be retrofitted to our stove if needed.
The manufacturer of our particular model of wood stove, Clearview, explains that:
- Adding a boiler to one of their stoves will reduce the temperature within the firebox of the stove.
- Stoves with boilers can use double the amount of firewood compared to those without one.
- This can lead to more maintenance to keep each fire going.
- Boilers can add another level of complexity to stoves, and will require servicing to keep the boiler functioning well.
When it comes to using a stove with a boiler to help heat a home, the benefits of having the boiler must be weighed up against the downsides, which can include having to keep an eye on the stove more often and less heat output from the stove itself.
Whether a wood stove can heat a home will be largely dependent on the layout and size of the house.
Smaller, more open plan houses may benefit from one centralized wood burning stove, while larger homes with more closed of rooms may struggle with moving the heat around.
Our own particular stoves are installed in exiting open fireplaces located on external walls of the homes. The houses aren’t very open plan and so we can’t use our wood stoves to heat our whole homes. However they heat the rooms that they’re in very well and that’s all that we needed them to do.
Warm air generated by a wood stove can be circulated around a home using vents and fans, and a blower can be installed on a stove to help move the warm air.
Many models of wood stove can also have a boiler installed on the back to warm up water to be used for central heating.